McCain Blogger Conference Call

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John McCain held another blogger conference call Friday morning which Moe Lane, California Yankee and I were glad to participate in. Overall it went well. The bloggers took McCain to task over the NC GOP ad, and McCain took Obama to task over Ayers and Hamas. A number of well-known bloggers had the opportunity to ask questions, including Hugh Hewitt, Michael Goldfarb, Jim Geraghty, Amanda Carpenter, Sean Hackbarth, Ed Morrissey, Jennifer Rubin and more.

This will be a summary of a few of the major moments from the call.

"If They Want Their Taxes Raised, and they think that's best for the American future, then I'm not their guy"

Senator McCain began with an opening statement in which he touched on poverty, post-Katrina Louisiana, energy independence, and his stance on the economy, among other things. "Spending is the problem in Washington," he said, "not the lack of revenues".

Here is the audio of the opening remarks:

Read on for specific questions ...

"I'm offended at a comparison to a man like Tom Coburn"

The first question was from Hugh Hewitt. Hugh pointed out that, since McCain's last comments regarding Obama and Ayers, new audio and video of both Ayers and Dohrn have surfaced. "What obligation does Senator Obama have to talk about his associations with former and current radicals and what obligations does the media have to ask him about those," Hugh asked.

Senator McCain first blasted Obama once more for comparing Ayers and Senator Tom Coburn. He said that he thought Senator Obama should apologize to the American people for having anything to do with an unrepentant terrorist. "In my view," he said, "this organization was a terrorist organization by any description and I think that Americans should be discussing it, and the media".

Here is Hugh's blog on the topic.

This is the audio for Hugh's question and Senator McCain's answer:

"I want the best kind of campaign"

Michael Goldfarb asked what the problem was with the NC GOP ad and why Senator McCain wants it pulled. The question was followed-up on by Jim Geraghty who wanted to know if voters ought to take Wright into account. "In my view we should be talking about the differences between Senator Obama and myself" was the overall theme of his response. He made clear he was expressing his own point of view, which he felt he was entitled to share, and that he couldn't control what the NC GOP does with the ad.

It was clear that Senator McCain wants the party to have what he views as a clean campaign. I'd be very surprised to see Reverend Wright ads run in the general campaign at the national level.

There is a sense in which we bloggers and grassroots types are talking past the Senator and vice versa. His entire discussion of the ad was in the context of the national campaign. It's not the kind of campaign he wants to run, that he wants to focus on the difference between his positions and those of Senator Obama. The ad in question, however, is a state ad. They aren't focused on the differences between Senator McCain and Senator Obama because neither is the subject of the ad. The ad is about judgement, lack of which on the D side is best exemplified by those who endorse Obama, and by Obama's twenty year endorsement of Reverend Wright. The ad rightly calls the Dems in my home state to task for their poor judgement.

However, Senator McCain is entitled to his objection, and should be able to characterize the style of his campaign. That he doesn't want to focus advertising on the Wright-Obama character question is not a repudiation of the issue as valid, or our concerns as legitimate. Calling the NC GOP out of touch with reality is, but not wanting to run the ads is not.

Running ads on Wright would be right and fair. But it doesn't mean not running them will be disastrous for the McCain campaign. I also don't see it as an attack on conservatives as some have suggested. It's John McCain, he shares his opinions.
(Update Note: California Yankee points out that McCain's objection to the ad is in keeping with his Call for Tolerance and Respect)

As far as the conference call, I'd call the issue still open. Here is Michael Goldfarb's blog on the call, and here is Jim Geraghty's.

This is the audio of both Goldfarb and Geraghty
(edited together and cleaned up a bit):

"I Will be Hamas' Worst Nightmare"

Another big moment was when Jennifer Rubin brought up Hamas, Jimmy Carter and Senator Obama's unhelpful signals to Hamas. The Mac was on the attack here, and didn't mince words. "I think it's very clear that it's understandable why they would not want me to be President of the United States. So, if Senator Obama is favored by Hamas I think people can make judgements accordingly." Yes indeed.

Here is Jennifer Rubin's blog on the topic.

This the audio:

"I just don't think you could do that"

Lastly, some hick from North Carolina asked Redstate's question for Senator McCain. "As you know Senator Obama withdrew from any plans to have a debate in North Carolina prior to the primaries. As a resident I'd be interested in your thoughts on setting up some kind of televised discussion between you and Senator Clinton on issues relevant to North Carolinians, maybe before the primary?" He doesn't think you can do that, not before they choose their candidate. "I just don't think it would be the appropriate thing to do," he said.

Thus ends our attempt to recruit Senator McCain into Operation Chaos. [Moe Lane: A twerp from Maryland (by way of New Jersey) later emailed the campaign with a follow-up, asking if the Senator would meet with both his opponents for a North Carolina primary debate. The reply: Sen. McCain is willing to debate the Democratic nominee as many times as possible and in whatever venue is available. However, the Democrats should sort out their mess first. Hard to argue with that, frankly: they really should.]

Throughout the call I think it was clear who the Senator expects to be the nominee. I haven't pored over the audio, but I can't remember any specific mention of Senator Clinton other than my own. He took several opportunities to draw a distinction between himself and Senator Obama.

Roundup of coverage not linked above, including the other questions that were asked:

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McCain Blogger Conference Call 6 Comments (0 topical, 6 editorial, 0 hidden) Post a comment »

The list of bloggers he conveniently leaves off the call list is very telling! And by "he" I mean his staff.

Damn right I'm Bitter! ;0)

Founder and contributor to The Minority Report and Editor for The Hinzsight Report

Can someone please ask McCain why he continues to validate the Democratic framing of issues like Katrina and this ad? Is it some grand strategy to appeal to the center?

There's something like a quarter of the electorate that voted Bush in 2004 and no longer approves of him.

"No compromise with the main purpose, no peace till victory, no pact with unrepentant wrong." - Winston Churchill

By McCain's response the NC ad the implication is that he feels it is unfair to address the issue of Rev. Wright and Obama's attendance to a church that preaches hate. This is not a "personal" issue -- It is an issue that speaks to his basic core beliefs and frankly I think it of utmost importance.

We have had enough of the rantings Rev. Wrights and William Ayers of this country. We have a right to know if Obama thinks the same way.

McCain's response labels those that support this ad as 'racist' -- the typical response from the left whenever they want discussion closed down.

Criticize all you want, but don't make up false accusations.

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